A crowd of people and bicycles occupy the green space at the Penticton Public Library on July 9. The city has had its no sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw in effect for just over one month, and its effects are mixed. (Photo by Douglas Druin)

Penticton sees mixed results after one month with no sitting, lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw

Bylaw supervisor Tina Siebert said no tickets have been issued for violating the bylaw yet

It’s been just over one month since the City of Penticton passed its controversial no sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw, and, by all accounts, it seems to have deterred loitering the downtown.

According to Tina Siebert, the city’s bylaw supervisor, so far no tickets have been issued for violating the bylaw, which could amount to a $100 fine for an infraction. Instead, bylaw officers have taken an “educative approach and seems to be working so far.”

“We continue to recieve calls to all areas of the city, calls for service have slightly decreased in the downtown core for the past few weeks though,” said Siebert.

But both Siebert and Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager don’t believe the reduction is the result of solely just the bylaw, with both saying that many of the bylaw offenders have left the area to work in local orchards. They said this trend of people leaving the downtown area to pursue work elsewhere is one the city sees annually.

“From an RCMP perspective, it’s quite common this time of year to see changes in the downtown. We saw the same effect last year as the pickers go to the orchards,” said De Jager. “Most of our local vulnerable or street-entrenched population typically go else where, which is not to say that they’re not downtown. We have noticed a difference as compared to two months ago though.”

READ MORE: Penticton city council implements no sitting, lying on sidewalks

De Jager said he thinks this decrease can also be contributed to his officers’ 300 hours of foot patrols since April, and the work they’ve been undertaking with their community partners in the CAST program, and the officer-led CSET program. Both programs aim to connect marginalized individuals with resources and supports, with CAST intervening over 50 high-risk individuals to bring them to support services since it was launched in July 2018.

“Corporal Rock and Constable Grandy have gotten three or four people into treatment through CSET with Interior Health and mental health,” said De Jager. “So some of those real social chronics are not there because they’re in treatment. Which is a really good outcome.”

But the effects of this bylaw haven’t been entirely positive, with the city seeing an increase of displacement of vulnerable individuals, who now utilize other public spaces such as the lawn at the Penticton Public Library. De Jager said asking these people to vacate these spaces is not always possible, but his officers work to build relationships so that when they are asked to leave, they are more likely to oblige.

READ MORE: Residents give Penticton a 2.9 out of 5 rating in terms of safety

“We’ve seen this displacement last year as well. But when you push people out of somewhere, they have to go somewhere else. The only reason that the police can physically move somebody is if they are actually breaking the law,” said De Jager. “If they’re not breaking the law, then they only move because we’ve built a relationship with them and we ask them.

“Corporal Laurie Rock and Constable James Grandy have built a great relationship with these people, so they ask them to move and they move. Bylaw has done the same, they’ve built a relationship as well. They move because they feel respected.”

De Jager said ultimately, the solution to vagrancy in the city’s downtown and public spaces is housing. He said residents will soon see a difference in the number of people living on the streets with the recent opening of Compass Courts shelter, and the supportive housing on Winnipeg Street expected to follow suit and open in the fall.

Just Posted

Codling moths remain a problem for Okanagan apple growers

Problem areas for pest include Summerland, Penticton and Naramata

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen works to control mosquito populations

Control efforts in the region have been starting earlier each year

Summerland Ladies Club competes for Rental Cup

One-day golf tournament sponsored by Summerland Rental Centre

Driver held at gunpoint, car-jacked on East Side Road

Penticton RCMP are asking for the public to keep an eye out for the suspect, stolen vehicle

Penticton care aide training centre a first for the Interior

SafeCare BC Satellite Training Centre is now open in Penticton to help continuing care aides

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

VIDEO: B.C.’s famous cat Grandpa Mason has died

The story of the feral cat that started fostering kittens touched people around the world

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

WFN elects new chief

Westbank First Nation members elected Christopher Raymond Derickson Thursday night

PAW Patrol Live! adds third Penticton show due to pup-ular demand

Fans can now see the heroic pooches at three different showtimes at the SOEC

Columbia-Shuswap governments promised voice in caribou recovery

Population of Frisby-Boulder herd northeast of Sicamous at 11 animals and declining

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, crews on scene

Carnivorous praying mantis put to work in the Shuswap and Okanagan

Insects introduced to the region in the 1930s to control grasshoppers eating crops

Most Read